Design work begins on the center of Route 66

EDWARDSVILLE — Design work has begun to convert a former dentist’s office at 620 West Street into a Route 66 visitor and interpretive center.

The Route 66 centennial is planned nationwide in 2026. A series of murals are also being created in the area in preparation for the centennial.

The city was the sole bidder at an Illinois Department of Transportation auction on July 28 for the 840-square-foot property in Edwardsville, buying it for $17,000. Last week, the Edwardsville City Council voted 6 to 1 to approve a professional services agreement with Henderson and Associates. The only dissenting vote came from Alderman William Krause who said he thought there were better possible locations for a tourist centre.

At an administrative and community services committee last month, Edwardsville Director of Public Works Eric Williams said he and his department will now work on the process of obtaining the deed and closing the property. It can take 30 to 90 days, he said.

He also said he wanted to start the architectural work to start the grant process with the Bureau of Tourism of the Great Rivers and Roads.

Henderson and Associates Architects will carry out the work, which will include replacing all existing windows with new energy-efficient industrial-style windows to mimic the existing ones. Some windows will be enlarged. Garage doors will be replicated in their existing openings, which are now occupied by windows.

All of the building’s existing systems — electrical, heating, air conditioning, ventilation and lighting — will be replaced.

The architectural proposal and notice to proceed were accepted on July 1, and Henderson delivered a demolition package. The concept design for the Route 66 Visitor Center is expected to be approved by September 1, and the project is expected to be auctioned by October 1.

The center is expected to be completed by May 31, 2023.

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